The PM Podcast


Project Management for Beginners and Experts

Episode 322: The Secret Behind Project Human Resources Management is People-Centered Project Management (Free)

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Kim Wasson
Kim Wasson. Author, Speaker & PM Consultant.

When I was a junior project manager, I thought that managing my projects meant for me to focus primarily on the schedule. But as I grew from junior to senior I learned that in order to improve my project manager skills, I needed to learn how to manage project management relationships.

Every project is made up of people, and people are diverse and unpredictable beings. The fascinating study of people, how they interact, and what makes them tick is the heart of project management. It is also at the heart of "People-Centered Project Management", which is a free eBook by Kim Wasson https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimwasson.

The eBook is all about people project management and explores "The five elements that will make or break your project (unless you’re living in a cave)". The five elements are

  • Building Relationships
  • Common Goals
  • Learning Style
  • Motivation
  • Skills Matching

These elements are not only at the core of project human resources management, they are also at the center of our discussion. We review each element and and give you lots of tips and tricks so that you can improve your project manager people skills.

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #322. This is the Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I'm Cornelius Fichtner. Welcome back!

When I was a junior project manager, I thought that managing my projects meant for me to focus primarily on the schedule. But as I grew from junior to senior, I learned that in order to improve my project manager skills, I needed to learn how to manage project management relationships

Every project is made up of people and people are diverse and unpredictable beings. The fascinating study of people, how they interact and what makes them tick is at the heart of project management. It is also at the heart of People-Centered Project Management which is a free ebook by Kim Wasson.

This free ebook is all about people project management and explores the 5 elements that will make or break your project unless you're living in a cave. These 5 elements are building relationships, common goals, learning styles, motivation and skill matching; and they are not only at the core of project human resources management, they are also at the center of our discussion. We review each element and give you lots of tips and tricks so that you can improve your project manager people skills.

And now, let's all come out of our caves. Enjoy the interview.

Podcast Interview

Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Kim Wasson, author, speaker and project management consultant.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello, Kim! Welcome to The Project Management Podcast.

Kim Wasson: Thank you so much, Cornelius! I'm so happy to be here.

Cornelius Fichtner: And I'm happy to have you.

So let's fast forward to the end of our conversation here: What do you hope that our listeners will take away from the discussion?

Kim Wasson: Well, three major things that I really am trying to get project managers to understand from this area. One is that people at the heart of any project and you can have all the beautiful schedules that you want and who doesn’t love a good Gantt Chart, but one unmotivated person can blow the whole thing up. So you really have to pay attention to the people elements in your project.

And you can't pull out your WD for you and fix it if it goes wrong. You have to take care of it as it happens although as we all know chocolate is the WD-40 of the project management world.

In order to better manage all of these, you really have to build relationships with the people on your team, not just with your team as a whole. You have to pay attention to it. Even if it's an uncomfortable thing for you, it's an absolutely integral part of managing a project. So that's mostly it. That's it in a nutshell.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! So our conversation is going to be based on your free ebook: People-Centered Project Management - The Five Elements that will Make or Break Your Projects Unless You're Living in a Cave. And we are going to be telling people at the end of the interview where they can download it for free. What is your personal interest in the human side of project management? Why are you passionate about it?

Kim Wasson: There are a couple of reasons. Part of it is kind of how I'm built. I do like to make people happy and that's not always easy when you're managing projects. I was very fortunate to train to be a manager at IBM at the time when they had no HR so I had some really excellent insights on what to watch for and how important people are to any business.

I like the big challenge of project management which is putting all the pieces together and making them add up to whatever the picture on a box is changed to at any given time. And the people pieces I found over the course of my career are incidentally more complex and interesting to me than any of the mechanical parts of project management.

And finally because I like my projects to succeed and it has become increasingly clear that if don’t pay attention to the people on the project, it's not going to happen. So those are the three main things that make me passionate not only about doing this but about teaching people to do it because I think the people side really gets lost in project management education. I think we focus so much in the mechanics that sometimes we lose the fact that they are not going to help us if the people aren't doing their job.

Cornelius Fichtner: In the ebook, you talked about the 5 elements, the 5 elements that will make or break your project. How did these 5 emerge?

Kim Wasson: To some extent, I started practicing them partly because I had a management background and it took a while for me to really see them. I just kind of did them. But when I started coaching project managers is when they really came out because I found that the more senior the project managers were, they more they were struggling with these and I started to really identify what I was doing in a way that I could help them do the same kinds of things in the same areas. And of course, every situation is different but the main points do pretty much remain the same.

They kind of emerged as a discipline for me when I started working with business coach and we started talking about what I do and I had a big light bulb, a big revelation and when I talk to people that I've been working with for years about it, they all said: "And? Yes, we all know this is what you do."

So it became in trying to help other project managers, it became just increasingly important for me to be able to be articulate about these and to make them very concrete because we are project managers and we work in reality.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! In that case, let's make them concrete. Let's open up your ebook and let's talk about each of these five if you could sort of give us an overview of each of them. So the first one that I see is building relationships, understanding your team.

Kim Wasson: Yes, building relationships is really the core of being able to do, to understand the other elements. And this is not, it's not like touchy, feely, let's-go-out-for-a-drink kind of thing. It really is a business relationship and while you do build one with your team because teams are entities and every team has its own personality and you really need to understand that. You need to build a relationships with each of the people on your team so you'll understand where they are coming from and what they are likely to do and what's going to motivate them and what they are going to react to and even more basic than that, if you have a relationship, they are going to tell you what's going on. And that's what you want.

As a project manager, we all hate surprises. You don’t want to be in react mode. You want to know something is going on. If you have a relationship with each of the individuals on your team, you're going to get that information and they are going to offer it. You're not going to be dragging it out of them. You're not going to be behind the 8-ball and trying to catch up when something goes wrong because some engineer was trying desperately to get something done in that optimistic way that engineers have.

And so it's time. It is time. It requires care and feeding. It requires contact. If you're collocated, you really need to stop by and talk to people unless they hunt you over and hide their eyes. You know they hate people stopping by because that's not going to help your relationship.

But face-to-face communications are absolutely best and email is at the very bottom of the list. Email is really good for disseminating information but there is no give and take and there is no relationship in email. As much face-to-face as you can do even through video conferencing on a regular basis. It does not have to be all the time but you pick up those cues and suddenly people are not email addresses or Skype addresses or a voice on the phone. They are a person. It's so much easier to relate to a person when you have their face and their mannerisms in mind. And so that's an important part.

But phone conversations are excellent because you do pick up cues there. There are verbal cues but there are cues in the silences and the hesitations and you need to give people their own time. So if you need to beat somebody up about something, you don’t do it in the time that you've given them to talk to you. You want to give them time where it's safe, where they can tell you whatever they need to tell you and you can respond appropriately and confidentially. So those are kind of the steps in building a relationship that you have to keep it up. They don’t stay up. They'll stagnate. They won't work on their own.

Cornelius Fichtner: The second of your 5 elements is common goal.

Kim Wasson: Yes.

Cornelius Fichtner: What do you mean by common goals? Are we talking about the project goals or the goals of the team?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

Tags: PDUs: Technical Project Management, Project Human Resources Management, Free eBook

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